On every Brandi Carlile album, there is at least one song where she hurls her voice to the skies. Here she flirts with going full-bore on “Rise Again,” but otherwise simply continues her ascendance as contemporary pop’s most expressive and astonishing singer this side of Adele. Marginally more country than its predecessors, “Bear Creek” raises the mandolin quotient. She reveals a soft spot for trouble in “Raise Hell” and “Keep Your Heart Young,” though there’s a difference between their free-spirited mischief and the genuinely destructive behavior in “That Wasn't Me,” where a recovering addict begs for forgiveness. Carlile’s warmth of spirit sustains her through some of the album’s dips (“Just Kids”). Four studio albums in, Carlile has no masterpiece. But it’s awfully gratifying hearing her try. (Out now)
ESSENTIAL “That Wasn't Me”
Brandi Carlile performs at the Bank of America Pavilion on Aug. 4.